Education And The Culture Of Pathei-Mathos

David Myatt

David Myatt

Editorial Note: We republish here David Myatt’s 2014 essay Education And The Culture Of Pathei-Mathos given its relevance to his recent (November 2017) book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos. The essay was included in his 2014 book One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods.

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Education And The Culture Of Pathei-Mathos

One of the many subjects that I have pondered upon in the last few years is the role of education and whether a learning of our thousands of years old human culture of pathei-mathos – understood and appreciated as a distinct culture [1], and thence as an academic subject – could possibly aid us, as a species, to change; aid us to become more honourable, more compassionate, less egoistical, less violent, as individuals, and thus aid us to possibly avoid in our own lives those hubriatic errors, and causing the suffering, that the culture of pathei-mathos reveals are not only unethical but also which we humans make and cause and have made and caused again and again and again. That is, can a knowledge and appreciation of this culture, perhaps learnt individually and/or in institutions such as schools and colleges, provide with us with that empathic, supra-personal, perspective which I personally – as a result of my own learning and experiences – am inclined to feel could change, evolve, us not only as individuals but as a species?

Studia Humanitatis

For thousands of years – from the classical world to the Renaissance to fairly recent times – Studia Humanitatis (an appreciation and understanding of our φύσις as human beings) was considered to be the basis of a good, a sound, education.

Thus, for Cicero, Studia Humanitatis implied forming and shaping the manners, the character, and the knowledge, of young people through them acquiring an understanding of subjects such as philosophy, geometry, rhetoric, music, and litterarum cognitio (literary culture). This was because the classical weltanschauung was a paganus one: an apprehension of the complete unity (a cosmic order, κόσμος, mundus) beyond the apparent parts of that unity, together with the perceiveration that we mortals – albeit a mere and fallible part of the unity – have been gifted with our existence so that we may perceive and understand this unity, and, having so perceived, may ourselves seek to be whole, and thus become as balanced (perfectus) [2], as harmonious, as the unity itself:

Neque enim est quicquam aliud praeter mundum quoi nihil absit quodque undique aptum atque perfectum expletumque sit omnibus suis numeris et partibus […] ipse autem homo ortus est ad mundum contemplandum et imitandum – nullo modo perfectus, sed est quaedam particula perfecti. [3]

Furthermore, this paganus natural balance implied an acceptance by the individual of certain communal responsibilities and duties; of such responsibilities and duties, and their cultivation, as a natural and necessary part of our existence as mortals.

In the Christian societies of Renaissance Europe, Studia Humanitatis became more limited, to subjects such as history, moral philosophy, poetry, certain classical authors, and Christian writers such as Augustine and Jerome, with the general intent being a self improvement with the important proviso that this concentration on the advancement of the individual to ‘noble living’ by means of ‘noble examples’ (classical and Christian) should not conflict with the Christian weltanschauung [4] and its perceiveration of obedience to whatever interpretation of Christian faith and eschatology the individual favoured or believed in. In more recent times, Studia Humanitatis has become the academic study of ‘the liberal arts’, the ‘humanities’, often as a means to equip an individual with certain personal skills – such as the ability to communicate effectively and to rationally analyse problems – which might be professionally useful in later life.

However, the culture of pathei-mathos provides an addition to the aforementioned Studia Humanitatis, and an addition where the focus is not on a particular weltanschauung (paganus, Christian, liberal, or humanist) but rather on our shared pathei-mathos: on what we and others have learnt, and can learn, about our human φύσις from experience of grief, suffering, trauma, injustice. For it is such personal learning from experience, or the records of or the influence of the experiences of others, which is not only the essence of much of what we, and others for thousands of years, have appreciated and learned from some of the individual subjects or fields of learning that formed the basis for the aforementioned Studia Humanitatis – history, litterarum cognitio, and music, for example – but also what, at least in my view, provides us with perhaps the deepest, but most certainly with the most poignant, insight into our φύσις as human beings.

Thus considered as an individual subject or field of learning, academic or otherwise, the culture of pathei-mathos would most certainly help to form and shape the manners, the character, the knowledge, of young people, for it has the potential to provide us with a perception and an understanding of the supra-personal unity – the mundus – of which we are a mortal part, and thus perhaps can aid us to become as inwardly balanced, as harmonious, as the unity beyond and encompassing us, bringing as such a perception, understanding, and balance, does that appreciation and empathic intuition of others which is compassion and aiding as such compassion does the cessation of the suffering that an unbalanced – a hubriatic, egoistical – human φύσις causes and has caused for so many millennia.

Can we therefore, as described in the Pœmandres tractate,

hasten through the harmonious structure, offering up, in the first realm, that vigour which grows and which fades, and – in the second one – those dishonourable machinations, no longer functioning. In the third, that eagerness which deceives, no longer functioning; in the fourth, the arrogance of command, no longer insatiable; in the fifth, profane insolence and reckless haste; in the sixth, the bad inclinations occasioned by riches, no longer functioning; and in the seventh realm, the lies that lie in wait. [5]

For is not to so journey toward the unity “the noble goal of those who seek to acquire knowledge?”

But if we cannot make that or a similar personal journey; if we do not or cannot learn from our human culture of pathei-mathos, from the many thousands of years of such suffering as that culture documents and presents and remembers; if we no longer concern ourselves with de studiis humanitatis ac litterarum, then do we as a sentient species deserve to survive? For if we cannot so learn, cannot so change, cannot so educate ourselves, or are not so educated in such subjects, then it seems to me we may never be able to escape to the freedom and the natural evolution, the diversity, that await among the star-systems of our Galaxy. For what awaits us if we, the unlearned, stay unchanged, are only repetitions of the periodicity of human-caused suffering until such time as we exhaust, lay waste, make extinct, our cultures, our planet, and finally ourselves. And no other sentient life, elsewhere in the Cosmos, would mourn our demise.

David Myatt
May 2014

From a letter sent to a personal correspondent. Some footnotes have been added, post scriptum, in an effort to elucidate some parts of the text and provide appropriate references.

Notes

[1] I define the culture of pathei-mathos as the accumulated pathei-mathos of individuals, world-wide, over thousands of years, as (i) described in memoirs, aural stories, and historical accounts; as (ii) have inspired particular works of literature or poetry or drama; as (iii) expressed via non-verbal mediums such as music and Art, and as (iv) manifest in more recent times by ‘art-forms’ such as films and documentaries.

The culture of pathei-mathos thus includes not only traditional accounts of, or accounts inspired by, personal pathei-mathos, old and modern – such as the With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and the poetry of people as diverse as Sappho and Sylvia Plath – but also works or art-forms inspired by such pathei-mathos, whether personal or otherwise, and whether factually presented or fictionalized. Hence films such as Monsieur Lazhar and Etz Limon may poignantly express something about our φύσις as human beings and thus form part of the culture of pathei-mathos.

[2] A pedantic aside: it is my considered opinion that the English term ‘balanced’ (a natural completeness, a natural equilibrium) is often a better translation of the classical Latin perfectus than the commonly accepted translation of ‘perfect’, given what the English word ‘perfect’ now imputes (as in, for example, ‘cannot be improved upon’), and given the association of the word ‘perfect’ with Christian theology and exegesis (as, for example, in suggesting a moral perfection).

[3] M. Tullius Cicero, De Natura Deorum, Liber Secundus, xiii, xiv, 37

[4] q.v. Bruni d’Arezzo, De Studiis et Litteris. Leipzig, 1496.

[5] My translation of the Greek text. From Mercvrii Trismegisti Pymander de potestate et sapientia dei – A Translation and Commentary. 2013.


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Self-Dramatization And Sentimentalist?

David Myatt

Self-Dramatization, Sentimentalist, Or Chronicler Of Pathei Mathos?

Overview: Personal Effusions

Many of David Myatt’s post-2006 writings are intensely personal. In particular, the letters – or extracts from private letters – which he has published are full of personal feelings, such as in the following examples; the first from his The Joy-bringing Sky-blue, written in 2006, and the second from his One Error-Prone Self written in 2012, with both included in his 2013 book Understanding and Rejecting Extremism.

« So I am haunted, here and again, where again the Swallows gather as they gather at this time of year: chirping to each other and preparing in some weeks to leave. Thus do they skim the fields, catching, eating, their food as the cycle of natural life upwardly repeats and a cooling breeze dims a little of the humid heat of the day, here in a greening part of a still-living England. Haunted, here and again – amid such joyful growing warmth – with, by, because of, her death; with by, because of, the multiplicity of my multitudes of suffering-causing and so stupid mistakes. »

« There is a certain inner emptiness, and often, and bearing grief and sadness, when alone indoors. Inner vacant sometimes colding spaces which perhaps a belief in God – or the gods – might fill, and which certainly a partner or prayer or both would warm and dissipate. Yet this certain inner emptiness, such sadness, I sense is perhaps is as it should be for me, as part expiation for the varied harm my varied pasts – in this one life – have caused […..] But I have no chanted, sung, or contemplative Opus Dei to try, in monastic peace and with hope and faith, to balance – Soli Deo Honor et Gloria – the unwise deeds of so many; nor any longer a desire or need to interfere in the lives of others. So there is for me only the living of each moment as it passes: no aim, no goal. »

The overall impression is of reading someone’s private diary, with there being so many published emotive and personal effusions over so many years naturally leading us to ask pertinent questions about Myatt himself. Why publish what many people will undoubtedly dismiss – or already have dismissed – as either mawkish or as self-dramatization or as both, and do such published personal effusions detract from both his translations and his philosophy of pathei mathos? There is also, of course, given his extremist past and given particular allegations about him and the Occult, the obvious question of whether the feelings expressed in these outpourings are genuine particularly as Myatt appears to have ready-made answers to such questions. Such as this, from his Some Questions For DWM 2017,

« My only – quite feeble – excuse for the plenitude of such post-2011 writings is that they, through the act of writing and corresponding with others, were partly expiative but mostly aided (or seemed to me to aid) my understanding of myself particularly in relation to my extremist past and the religions I had personal and practical experience of. »

Or this, from his earlier Some Questions For DWM 2014,

« My writings, post-2011, were and are really dialogues: interiorly with myself and externally with a few friends or the occasional person who has contacted me and expressed an interest. They are just my attempts to answer particular philosophical and metaphysical questions which interest or perplex me; attempts to understand myself and my extremist past (and thus understand extremism itself), and attempts to express what I believe I have, via pathei-mathos, come to understand and appreciate. Thus, I make no claims regarding the worth or the importance of these personal and philosophical musings, with such dialogues, musings, and correspondence published mostly because expiatory but also because (being honest) of vanity in the hope that some of them may possibly, just possibly, be of some interest to a few individuals interested in such philosophical and metaphysical questions or interested in understanding extremism and its causes. But if no one takes them seriously, it does not matter, for they have assisted me in understanding myself, in recognizing and acknowledging my past mistakes and the suffering I have caused, and aided my move from extremism toward developing a mystical and personal weltanschauung imbued with a muliebral ethos. »

An Assessment

The sheer quantity of material – amounting to hundreds of published letters and essays dating from 2006 to 2017 – is a good starting point. Arranging them into date order, beginning with his The Scent of Meadow Grass {1} written in 2006 “four days on from Fran’s death” and ending with his Some Questions For DWM 2017, they tell a particular personal story. A story which includes works such as Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos: Essays and Letters Regarding Spirituality, Humility, and A Learning From Grief {2} and, of course, his ‘autobiography’ – his apologia – titled Myngath {3}.

The personal story that is told by this material is that of an arrogant, violent, fanatic who spent thirty years as a neo-nazi activist, ideologue, and propagandist, followed by ten years as a radical Muslim preaching Jihad and who publicly supported al-Qaida, Hamas, and ‘suicide attacks’. Which – with his various terms of imprisonment for violence, his leadership of a gang of thieves, his terrorist manual which inspired the London nail- bomber, followed by his conversion to Islam – is itself an interesting if strange story had it ended with him, for example, in prison as a Muslim for such offences as ‘inviting support for a proscribed organisation’, or ‘possessing a document containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’ or ‘inciting terrorism overseas’.

But the story did not end with his Muslim years. He suffered a personal tragedy, the unexpected suicide in 2006 of his fiancée and which tragedy maybe for the first time in his life grounded him in the realities of human suffering and grief. According to his post-2006 personal writings {4} it was this singular event which caused him to reflect upon his extremist past and upon him own character.

In a long letter dated March 2010 and to which letter he gave the title One More Foolish Failure Myatt wrote

« I am such a fool; such a failure, in evolutionary terms, in the perspective of the Cosmos. Here I am, entering the sixth decade of my life, having spent the last forty years seeking experience and wisdom and having, in that time, made so many errors, mistakes, and been the cause of much suffering, personal and otherwise. How then can I be deemed wise? How – when I have leant, from sorrowful experience, from my own pathei-mathos, from the personal tragedy of the dying and the death of two loved ones, and yet have always always, until now, returned to pursuing suffering-causing abstractions and unethical goals?

There is no excuse for this failure of mine, year following year – although of course I have always made excuses for myself, as failures often do. Wordy, moral-sounding, inexcusable excuses almost always of the unethical “the end justifies the means” kind.

No excuses – because from sorrow, from personal tragedy, I felt, dis-covered, the unethical nature of all abstractions, be they deemed political, religious, or social. And yet I always seemed, until a month ago, to gravitate back toward them, as if there was some basic flaw in my personal nature, my character, that allowed or even caused such a return, such a stupid forgetting of lessons learnt […..]

Thus is there the same old haunting question – of how long will it be before I in my addiction forget The Numen, yet again, and so return to the suffering-causing habits of so many previous years? For now, I can only hope against hope that I have strength enough, memories enough, humility enough, to keep me where I know I should belong: infused, suffused, with the world of the numinous, enabling thus such an empathic living as can make us and keep us as ethical, compassionate, human beings; one sign toward the higher human type we surely have the potential to become. » {5}

It seems from subsequent writings that it was such feelings, such personal reflections, which spurred him to refine his then still incomplete ‘numinous way’ into what became his ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’ {6} and in which philosophy personal humility plays a central role {7}. Which is probably why he wrote that

« any Way or religion which manifests, which expresses, which guides individuals toward, the numinous humility we human beings need is good, and should not be stridently condemned. For such personal humility – that which prevents us from committing hubris, whatever the raison d’être, the theology, the philosophy – is a presencing of the numinous. Indeed, one might write and say that it is a personal humility – whatever the source – that expresses our true developed (that is, rational and empathic) human nature. » {8}

Myatt’s story thus ends with this philosophy; with him – post-2012 – emphasizing again and again the virtues of humility, personal love, compassion, tolerance, and personal honour, and being emphatic that his philosophy involves a personal, a mystical, approach to life and therefore is neither political nor involves any religious dogmatism and presents only his answers to particular questions, writing in 2012 that

« All I have are some personal and fallible answers to certain philosophical, personal, ethical, and theological, questions. No certainty about anything except about my own uncertainty of knowing and about the mistakes, the errors, of my past. » {9}

Two years later he wrote that

« In a very personal sense, my philosophy of pathei-mathos is expiative. » {10}

Which theme of a personal expiation runs through all his post-2010 writings.

A Personal Conclusion

My assessment, based on the personal material Myatt has published since 2006, is that there is a definite narrative and that this narrative is emotionally, personally, and philosophically consistent. That these writings are not mawkish and certainly not the self-dramatization of someone seeking to draw attention to themselves. That they are in fact documenting the interior, the personal, struggles of someone trying to reform – to radically change – themselves following a personal tragedy; someone using such writings, and in particular their publication, as acts of both self-learning and expiation, with it being plausible that he used such publication as a reminder to both others and himself so that he could never again return to the selfishness and extremism of his past.

For documenting such a struggle – from neo-nazi to modern mystic – Myatt should be commended with his post-2006 personal writings and his philosophy of pathei mathos a contribution to what Myatt has termed our ‘human culture of pathei-mathos’ which he defined in his 2014 essay Education And The Culture Of Pathei-Mathos {11} as

« the accumulated pathei-mathos of individuals, world-wide, over thousands of years, as (i) described in memoirs, aural stories, and historical accounts; as (ii) have inspired particular works of literature or poetry or drama; as (iii) expressed via non-verbal mediums such as music and Art, and as (iv) manifest in more recent times by art-forms such as films and documentaries. »

Yet, and to paraphrase Myatt, it is not important if his post-2010 personal writings are not taken seriously by others since they enabled him to understand himself, acknowledge his mistakes, and reform himself.

J.B.
2017

{1} Included in the book Understanding and Rejecting Extremism: A Very Strange Peregrination. 2013. ISBN 978-1484854266
{2} Published in 2013. ISBN 978-1484097984. When publishing his letters or extracts therefrom Myatt often provides a title for individual letters.
{3} Published in 2013. ISBN 978-1484110744
{4} For example see the section titled A Personal Tragedy in Myngath, and also his collection of essays titled Meditations on Extremism, Remorse, and The Numinosity of Love published in 2016.
{5} The letter, too long to quote in full here, is worth reading in its entirely. It is included in Meditations on Extremism, Remorse, and The Numinosity of Love, and can be read on-line at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/one-more-foolish-failure/ [Accessed October 2017]
{6} See his 2012 essay The Development of the Numinous Way, included as an appendix in both Myngath and Meditations on Extremism, Remorse, and The Numinosity of Love.
{7} The role of humility in Myatt’s philosophy is mentioned in Part Two of An Overview of David Myatt’s Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos by R. Parker included in the book The Mystic Philosophy Of David Myatt published in 2015, ISBN 978-1523930135.
{8} Soli Deo Gloria, written in 2011. Can be read on-line at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/soli-deo-gloria/ [Accessed October 2017]
{9} From the 2012 letter – titled Politics, Pathei-Mathos, and My Extremist Past – included in Part Three of Understanding and Rejecting Extremism.
{10} Some Questions For DWM 2014.
{11} The essay is included in his book One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings, published in 2014. ISBN 978-1502396105


Myatt: Selected Essays

A printed version of the 72 page compilation Such Respectful Wordful Offerings: Selected Essays Of David Myatt, edited by Rachael Stirling, is now available.

ISBN-13: 978-1978374355. BISAC: Biography & Autobiography / Philosophy.

Contents:

° Editorial Preface
° Bright Berries, One Winter
° The Leaves Are Showering Down
° Perhaps Words Are The Problem
° A Non-Terrestrial View
° Musings On Suffering
° Blue Reflected Starlight
° A Slowful Learning, Perhaps
° Toward Humility – A Brief Personal View
° A Catholic Still, In Spirit?
° Some Personal Perceiverations
° Twenty Years Ago, Today
° Some Questions For DWM, 2017
° Cantio Arcana
Appendix I – A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
Appendix II – On Translating Ancient Greek
Appendix III – Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum
Appendix IV – Cicero On Summum Bonum
Appendix V – Swan Song Of A Mystic
Appendix VI – Self-Dramatization, Sentimentalist, Or Chronicler Of Pathei Mathos?


Toward Understanding The Numinous

David Myatt

David Myatt

Editorial Note. Republished here is an archive item by David Myatt, originally published on his blog, and dating from the early part of 2010. That is, before he refined his ‘numinous way’ into his philosophy of pathei-mathos, writing as he did in his 2012 article The Development Of The Numinous Way, that

{quote}

Given that the essence of The Numinous Way is individual empathy, an individual understanding, the development of an individual judgement, and the living of an ethical way of life where there is an appreciation of the numinous, the more I reflected upon this ‘numinous way’ between 2011 and Spring 2012, the more I not only realized my mistakes, but also that it was necessary to remove, to excise, the detritus that had accumulated around the basic insights and the personal pathei-mathos that inspired me to develope that ‘numinous way’. Mistakes and detritus because for some time, during the development of that ‘numinous way’, I was still in thrall to some abstractions, still thinking in terms of categories and opposites, and still fond of pontificating and generalizing, especially about The State. I therefore began to re-express, in a more philosophical manner, the personal, the individual, the ontological, the ethical and spiritual nature, of The Numinous Way, and thus emphasized the virtues of humility, love, and of wu-wei – of balance, of tolerance, of non-interference, of individual interior (spiritual) reformation, of non-striving, of admitting one’s own uncertitude of understanding and of knowing.

The year-long (2011-2012) process of refinement, correction, and reflexion resulted in me re-naming what remained of my ‘numinous way’ the philosophy of pathei-mathos.

{/quote}

Given the topics covered by Myatt in his reply we feel it will be of interest to our readers even though it is dated and therefore probably does not represent Myatt’s current views on the topics in question.

RS,
2017


The following extracts are from my correspondence, in the Spring of 2010 CE, with a young Western gnostic residing, at the time, in India. I have slightly revised the text in order to correct typos and, in a few place, to clarify the meaning.

Toward Understanding The Numinous

I was most interested to receive your reply, since it seems that both you and I have been on somewhat similar quests among the Ways of Life of this world.

You wrote that:
“Political action without the element of the sacred seems futile to me (or at least doomed to failure).”

Something I certainly agree with – and what attracted me, at quite a young age, to NS was that I felt there was something numinous about the life, and the NS, of Adolf Hitler. Many years ago, now, I had the wonderful fortune to meet someone who knew him personally, and he – and another comrade of his (also a personal friend of The Chief) – amply confirmed my initial intuition.

But what I, in my youthful arrogance, failed to understand was that, essentially, National-Socialism was Adolf Hitler – as those two individuals told me, and it was only after several decades of fighting for NS, that I gradually came to realize my error. Which was that my [political] attempt – and all such attempts – to revive NS were doomed because they lacked the numinous, which numinous had to be, for our still unenlightened times, embodied in a living person. Hence, I suppose, my mythos of Vindex: an attempt (perhaps a vain one) to prefigure a new charismatic leader who might, by his (or her) very life presence the numinous, in the modern world, and possibly by the medium, the causal form, of politics.

Yet I have also come to understand that AH may have made some mistakes, through elevating a particular abstraction over and above the numinous, and through occasionally striving to make real his vision by using certain un-numinous – that is, dishonourable – means, such as modern impersonal warfare.

You wrote:
“do you still consider yourself to be a Muslim?”

Possibly, but only in the sense that I understand authentic Islam as an apprehension, one presencing, of the numinous, in our dishonourable times; and in the sense that being Muslim means (at least according to my rather limited understanding) acknowledging our human fallibility before, and dependence and reliance upon, The One, named Allah (as we are but mortal travellers in the realm of the causal).

This, perhaps, is veering toward a rather Sufi-esque view, where there is the understanding of how various Ways may also be, or can sometimes be, a path, a Way, toward The One.

Again, I was perhaps fortunate in having been able to spend some time in the Middle East and Iran, talking to Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, and especially during one trip in Egypt into the desert where I felt I came close to feeling and understanding the simple beauty, the numinous purity, behind the label “Islam” which as been assigned to that Way – a simple beauty, a purity, I had also felt during my time as a Christian monk.

You wrote:
“I’m still very much interested in NS and Islam, however, as well as the Numinous Way”

What I have called The Numinous Way are simply my own tentative answers to questions which have perplexed me for decades, and/or which I have been seeking answers to, as well as being the result of my learning from my errors, my mistakes, my arrogance. I am quite aware that my answers, my conclusions, may be incorrect or somehow incomplete, and that they are not, nor can ever be, definitive, or even adequately describe our (and my own) apprehension of the numinous.

In a sense, I seem to have found something lacking in all the many and various Ways I have experienced and lived, over the decades; found myself in some way or other dissatisfied with the answers which seem to have accumulated around such Ways over the centuries.

Thus my Numinous Way is just my own perspective, my own view, of the numinous, and does not seem to me to necessarily contradict the essence of many other Ways, when such Ways are considered sans dogma, sans the abstractions, they have acquired over the centuries.

So, for the moment, at least, I am reasonably happy with such personal answers of mine, which answers seem to have taken me to what appears to be the essence behind many Ways, such that, in one sense, I am (and yet am not) Muslim, and Catholic, and Taoist, and pagan, and Buddhist, and so on. Such terms – such -isms – just seem to get in the way of living one’s life in a numinous, empathic, manner.

You wrote:
aspects of [life here] can be difficult for a Westerner to adjust to…

In many if not most ways your experiences there [in India] seem to be the opposite of mine in Muslim lands. When I lived for a while in the Middle East – and whenever I travelled to such lands – I found acceptance and friendship. Indeed, sometimes, I found it rather overwhelming and occasionally embarrassing – still having something of an archetypal old-fashioned English demeanour. For instance, I can remember on many occasions going into a Mosque somewhere (almost always the only White person there) and being greeted with genuine warmth and asked to sit in the front row for Namaz (a position of honour normally) and afterwards being invited into people’s homes.

You wrote:
If I’ve understood your notion of the numinous correctly, then I believe you’d agree that the problem with the Right is that it keeps trying to put abstraction in front of the Real

Certainly – and this means a rejection of all conventional politics. It seems to me that the solution is two-fold. First, that one has to go beyond the old, un-numinous, abstraction of the nation-State, and instead establish new communities based upon tribes and clans and thus upon a new, emerging, living – numinous – tradition. Second, that one has to make personal honour not only one of the foundations of one’s own life, but also the only basis for the ethics of, and law and justice in, such new communities.

My understanding of a living tradition is that it arises naturally from a small community or some collection of such small communities, with the individuals often bound together by bonds of kinship and the sharing of toil and of hardship overcome. These individuals dwell in a specific area which they have an affinity to and which provides them with sustenance and a means of living. That is, there is a direct and necessary relationship to the land, to Nature, in a specific, small, local area.

Personally, I do not believe that it is possible to resurrect, and certainly undesirable to try and resurrect, some dead tradition, even if it be of one’s ancestors, one’s own folk. Rather, one has to plant the seeds of a new numinous tradition and nurture the growth of that tradition.

Having spent a great deal of my adult life living and working in the English countryside, and having some experience of politics and religions, I am acutely aware of what native Europeans have not only lost but also need to acquire, and develope.

What has been lost – in the pursuit of materialism, through technology, and an increasing urbanization – is that numinous connexion to Nature, to a certain small area which we personally know and where we dwell, and a living in a way we are not bound by the modern abstraction of Time or swayed and manipulated by abstractions in general (and politics and all un-numinous religions are abstractions), but rather where the horizon of our daily lives and thus our concerns are set by what we know, and those whom we know, personally, directly.

What needs to be acquired and developed is, in effect, a new personality – a new type of human being.

You wrote:
you always write something original, rather than just developing a new synthesis of other men’s words

Well, during my second term of imprisonment I decided that I would henceforward write only about what I personally felt, had experienced, or concluded as the result of my own thinking – mostly because I then perhaps rather arrogantly believed that no one hitherto had fully understood the problem or conceived of a viable solution (relating to the problems of the West) or even answered in a way I found satisfying the fundamental questions about our own existence as human beings.

Prior to this, I had spent almost a decade in reading the views, and answers, the writings, of others – ranging from Homer to TS Eliot, from Aristotle to Nietzsche and Heidegger; from Norse myths to Buddhism to Savitri Devi; and so on.

My early NS writings were mainly derived from my own youthful idealistic vision and my passion to remake my own land into a better, more noble, place, and to counter what then I understood as the machinations, the “social engineering” of the Magian, and others. My writings about Islam were often inspired by what I felt was a certain insidious Western influence so that for example the simple submission and guidance that was Al-Islam came be viewed and understood and re-interpreted through certain Western abstractions, philosophical and political, for even the use and acceptance of the term “religion” by Muslims in relation to their own Way of Life was such an error.

But it took me several decades, in the case of NS and such things as Christianity and Buddhism, and almost a decade in the case of Islam, to acquire the practical experience, the theoretical (academic) knowledge, and thence the direct personal understanding, that led me to form certain conclusions about such forms, ideas, and Ways, and which drew from within me my own, individual, refined and complete, answers to the fundamental questions about our human existence.

In respect of NS, I came to understand that the problem was not the simple “us and them” concept that the biological notion of the folk, the concentration on the machinations of the Jews, and the concept of eternal struggle, created. That is, the belief that we had been somehow led astray, and needed to return to some idealized notion of some past we have lost, to re-connect ourselves with “our true identity” and “purify” our land and folk.

Instead, I concluded that we ourselves – native Europeans – were an integral part of the problem; that it was necessary for us to fundamentally change ourselves, and that this change had to arise from within each one of us, directly, numinously, and could not be achieved by the imposition of or the striving for some political, some social, ideology or by adherence to some pre-existing religious world-view. It certainly could not be achieved by trying to resurrect some dead – and often some idealized – past tradition.

Thus, as you wrote:
the fixation on the biological view of race is one such symptom

In respect of Islam, I came to understand that for all its benefits, for all its intimations of the numinous in this materialistic modern world of ours, it was – had become – an abstraction, which individuals imposed upon themselves and mightily strove to follow and adhere to in the hope of Jannah, and that, and unfortunately, even a desire to return to the perceived, the original, fundamentals – as manifest for instance in the modern awakening that was Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah – was not and never could be the numinous, the evolutionary, the ethical, the correct philosophical, answer, just as what one might described as the more natural, the less abstract, the less dogmatic, perhaps the more human, approach of Sufism was not, ultimately, the answer either.

Which answer, for me, is the simple one of empathy, compassion, personal honour, and of ourselves as one nexion, one fragile connexion to all Life, with there being no need for the abstraction of some biological folk, no need for some suffering-caused concept of struggle and dominance, no need to project blame on others for our own failings, no need for assumptions such as Jannah, no need to strive to adhere to some rigid principles or rules laid down by someone else in some past. Instead, there is a being-human in a natural way – a knowing of each moment of life in its immediate personal reality (sans abstractions), and a gentle acceptance of just living empathically, honourably, within that immediate and personal reality.

Philosophically, this is the knowledge that our life – our conscious human life which we possess the ability, the faculties, to change – is no longer and of necessity bound to what Heraclitus described as polemos; to some interminable dialectic of conflict and thence to some abstraction, some ideal, some linear concept, named “progress”. The knowledge that one of the most common causes of suffering – and of the loss of the numinous, in our lives – is the assumption of linearity, of causal Time (linear cause-and-effect), implicit in all our human manufactured abstractions, and which abstractions we impose upon ourselves, which we project onto and impose on other human beings, and on the life with which we share this planet.

David Myatt
May 2010


Such Respectful Wordful Offerings As This

David Myatt

°°°°°

Selected Essays Of David Myatt

Edited by Rachael Stirling

Such Respectful Wordful Offerings As This
(Second Edition, pdf)

Contents

° Editorial Preface
° Bright Berries, One Winter
° The Leaves Are Showering Down
° Perhaps Words Are The Problem
° A Non-Terrestrial View
° Musings On Suffering, Human Nature, And The Culture of Pathei-Mathos
° Blue Reflected Starlight
° A Slowful Learning, Perhaps
° Toward Humility – A Brief Personal View
° A Catholic Still, In Spirit?
° Some Personal Perceiverations
° Twenty Years Ago, Today
° Some Questions For DWM, 2017
° Cantio Arcana
Appendix I – A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
Appendix II – On Translating Ancient Greek
Appendix III – Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum
Appendix IV – Cicero On Summum Bonum
Appendix V – Swan Song Of A Mystic
Appendix VI – Self-Dramatization, Sentimentalist, Or Chronicler Of Pathei Mathos?

From the Editorial Preface

This compilation of essays arose out of some enquiries sent or forwarded to us following our re-publication of Some Questions For DWM, 2017 and of Ms Stirling’s article – titled Swan Song Of A Mystic – commenting on those questions and answers. Included here are all of the Myatt texts enquired about, plus a few others for context including those 2017 questions and answers and Swan Song Of A Mystic. This second edition includes an essay – Self Dramatization, Sentimentalist, Or Chronicler Of Pathei Mathos? – which takes a critical look at Myatt’s post-2010 writings.

The title of the compilation is taken from Myatt’s translation of the Cantio Arcana of tractate XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum and which ‘Esoteric Song’ we include here.

Three Wyrd Sisters
2017 ev


Swan Song Of A Mystic?

David Myatt

°°°°°

Swan Song Of A Mystic?

The latest effusion from Mr David Myatt, titled Some Questions For DWM 2017, is interesting for a variety of reasons not least of which is that it is permeated – as is his philosophy of pathei-mathos – with references to the classical culture of ancient Greece and Rome. It is also – perhaps unintentionally – revealing about Myatt’s character providing as it does facts about his life and how he now views his philosophy of pathei-mathos, which philosophy he has previously described as his weltanschauung, his own outlook on life.

The overall impression is of a man steeped in Western culture who is still ineluctably part of that culture but who – even though already withdrawn from the world – desires as a mystic might to cut what few ties still bind him to the world of vanity and materialism.

The Philosophy of Pathei Mathos

One of these ties appears to be his philosophy of pathei-mathos. This is a philosophy which is not only clearly pagan and part of the Western philosophical tradition {1} but also one which provides we Westerners with a cultured – a philosophical – paganism relevant to the modern world which is completely different from and even at odds with what has been termed both “contemporary paganism” and “neopaganism” with its invented rituals and ceremonies, its belief in and revival of ancient deities, and its lack of philosophical rigour. In effect, Myatt has continued, refined, and evolved the Western paganism – the ancient, the classical, paganism – evident in the works Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Cicero, the Corpus Hermeticum, and Marcus Aurelius, stripping away the old idea of gods and goddesses and replacing them with a modern mysticism centred around philosophical concepts such as Being and physis {2}, and virtues such as personal honour, pathei mathos, and empathy. Such a philosophical approach also conveniently does away – sans polemics – with conventional religions such as Christianity. {3}

Why then – given this gift to those seeking a Western alternative to the likes of Christianity who are unable to take “contemporary paganism” and “neopaganism” seriously – does Myatt in his latest effusion seem, as some have commented, to reject his own pagan philosophy? For among other things he writes,

“All that ‘philosophy’ seems to be to me now is a rather wordy and a rather egoistic, vainful, attempt to present what I (rightly or wrongly) believed I had learned about myself and the world as a result of various experiences.”

My own view is that he is not rejecting that philosophy, only moving on, as a composer of musical works – finding themselves unsatisfied with their creations – moves on to other things, to new compositions. In other words, Myatt is only re-expressing what he said some years ago, which was that the philosophy of pathei-mathos was

“simply my own weltanschauung, a weltanschauung developed over some years as a result of my own pathei-mathos. Thus, and despite whatever veracity it may or may not possess, it is only the personal insight of one very fallible individual.” {4}

In Myatt’s case he is simply moving on to concentrate on translations, and to live as his conscience dictates, or rather as his own pathei mathos informs him he should, which is life as a modern recluse and a learned mystic.

That he is not rejecting his own philosophy but instead is just not going to write anymore about it – or as he says, is not going to “pontificate” about it anymore – is evident in two of his replies. For in one reply he writes “I would suggest the tentative answers expressed by my weltanschauung,” while in another that such philosophical essays “can be, and in my case seem to have been, manifestations of vanity.”

But whether he will really write no more philosophical essays remains to be seen for there have been many writers, artists and musicians who, having forsworn their craft, nevertheless return to it at some stage.

A Western Heritage

In his latest effusion Myatt acknowledges his Western heritage, writing that as a schoolboy he read in Greek the likes of Thucydides, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and Herodotus, and in a rather remarkable admission that what he

“imbibed in those early years from such books of Ancient Hellas was nothing particularly philosophical but instead martial, and I could not but help admire those ‘thinking warriors’, those ‘perspicacious inventive gentlemen’ (περιφραδὴς ἀνήρ as Sophocles described them, cunning in inventive arts who arrive now with dishonour and then with honour, τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ ̓ἔχων τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ ̓ ἐπ ̓ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει) nurtured as I was then and had been for years by and in various colonies and outposts of what was still the British Empire. Thus it was natural that when, a short time later, I first learned about the Third Reich and about the loyalty of a soldier such as Otto Ernst Remer and the heroic actions of warriors such as Leon Degrelle I admired such men and intuited that something of the warrior ethos of ancient Hellas and Sparta may have manifested itself in our modern world.”

He also admits that

“some aspects of some of the tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum have influenced my thinking, just as Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Marcus Aurelius, and other classical and Hellenistic Greek and Latin writers have.”

That he does not mention any non-Western literature I find indicative.

Thus it is my view that Myatt – despite some of his past peregrinations or perhaps because of some of those peregrinations – is still rooted in and still contributing to the ethos of the West, a fact evident in his philosophy of pathei-mathos and also in his on-going translations of texts from the Corpus Hermeticum and his on-going translation of the Gospel of John, both of which are important for understanding the past and the current ethos of the West itself particularly as Myatt notes, in one of his replies, that his presumption is “of early Christianity probably being influenced by the diverse hermetic traditions which existed and flourished during the Hellenistic period.”

This rootedness in the culture of the West is also evident in another of his replies, with Myatt lamenting that

“for so many in the modern West there is no longer an ancestral culture of which one is a living, dwelling, part – a connexion between the past and the future and a connexion with a rural place of dwelling – and which culture preserves the slowly learned wisdom of the past.”

Like a few others, my view is that his philosophy of pathei-mathos as well as his translations provide some of the links we need to reconnect ourselves with our Western ancestral culture.

Rachael Stirling
August 2017

{1} See https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/a-modern-pagan-philosophy/
{2} In one of his replies Myatt writes that in his philosophy “the apparent parts of the unity are expressed by descriptors such as masculous and muliebral, with that unity – The One, μονάς – not designated by terms such as theos (God, god) or theoi (gods) but rather metaphysically, as Being and the emanations/effluvia of Being such as ourselves, Nature, and the Cosmos itself.”
{3} A detailed analysis of Myatt’s philosophy is given in the 2016 book The Mystic Philosophy Of David Myatt, which is available as a free download – https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/a-modern-mystic – and as a printed book, ISBN 978-1523930135
{4} The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis. The essay is in the 2014 compilation titled One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings.